I might have as well called this post “Crossing the Chasm” but it would not sound as attractive to those who have never heard of this book. Crossing the Chasm is a book written by Geoffrey A. Moore in 1991. It gives directions for technology entrepreneurs on how they can “make it” in their industry.
“we kill too many good ideas… by laughing at them” -Nicolas Hayek, CEO of Swatch Group of Switzerland
Expanding upon the Diffusion of Innovations model (created by Everett Rogers), Moore explains the existence of a chasm between the early adopters and the pragmatists.
What is a Chasm? It is a gap between the present and the desired / possible future.
“The hesitation arises..in part… from the general skepticism of mankind, which does not really believe in an innovation until experience proves its value.” – Machiavelli in The Prince
Moore goes on to identify ways to cross the chasm basing his theories on practical case studies in the high-tech industry. Most importantly, we can note the following techniques: targeting a niche market and understanding the whole product concept (including positioning, pricing and distribution).
“This section focuses on marketing, because this is where the leadership must come from” – Geoffrey Moore
Moore points out six chasms that bring a halt to the new product adoption process: the chasm within the mind, the new business-model chasm, the break-with-the-past chasm, the disruptive-technology chasm, The expedient-fix / strategic-solution chasm and the chasm between early and mainstream markets.
“…then comes a period where the whole world watches to see if anything can be made of this.”
-Geoffrey Moore in reference to the Chasm
“Trying to cross the chasm without taking a niche market approach is like trying to light a fire without kindling” says Moore. Why? He points out that “word of mouth is the number one source of information” in the high-tech buying process. If you do not focus your marketing efforts on a niche market, the word-of-mouth will never reach momentum to launch the product. Therefore, you will not be able to get the reference-base market that will reinforce its views by sharing information, nor be able to comfort the early adopters to make this leap (over the chasm) and purchase your product.
Comparing the speed at which the technology industry is growing, you can say this book is old. Yet, given that it is not linked to a specific technology, I would argue that it is still relevant today; not only for the high-tech industry, it applies to any new or disruptive product. I would happily recommend it to anyone interested in business development, marketing or entrepreneurship.